Something I, and unfortunately many other women, know a lot about is toxic relationships. A toxic substance is something that causes damage to you, drains you, and depletes you. A toxic relationship can irrevocably damage your sense of self.
There are toxic relationships and then there are toxic relationships, and I found myself in the latter when I was a junior in college and head over heels in love with a guy who was all sorts of wrong. Like most relationships, this one got off to a relatively problem-free start. The chemistry was electric, the attraction was strong, conversation flowed effortlessly, and we couldn’t get enough of each other. I felt a pull toward him unlike anything I had ever felt before. I saw some signs of trouble early on, but convinced myself that it would all work out because it simply had to. But it didn’t.
As time went on things only got worse, and throughout the course of our year-long relationship I turned into a dark shadow of my former self. I was no longer fun, outgoing, optimistic, confident, and full of light. Instead I felt constantly on edge, painfully insecure, drained, and sad. I lived under a dark cloud of fear … fear that it would end, that he would leave. I may have been miserable with him, but I believed that without him I would be beyond repair, so I stayed. I stayed far longer than I should have. I stayed even though he gave me every reason not to. In the end, he was the one who left, and as expected I felt gutted.